The Corner

What Strange Things People Are Pt. 2

But before despair over the quality of our citizenry overtakes me, I read Thomas Friedman’s latest sigh about China and our own suboptimal democracy. He writes:

Mr. Obama was elected for similar reasons. People had hoped that his unique story, personality and speaking skills could bring the country together, overcome paralysis and deliver nation-building at home. A lot of the disappointment settling in among Obama voters today is prompted by their dawning realization that maybe, like Arnold, he can’t.

China’s leaders, using authoritarian means, still can. They don’t have to always settle for suboptimal. So what do we do?

The standard answer is that we need better leaders. The real answer is that we need better citizens. We need citizens who will convey to their leaders that they are ready to sacrifice, even pay, yes, higher taxes, and will not punish politicians who ask them to do the hard things. Otherwise, folks, we’re in trouble. A great power that can only produce suboptimal responses to its biggest challenges will, in time, fade from being a great power — no matter how much imagination it generates.

This sort of thing makes me want to hunker and bunker-down with my family in a Nockian cubbyhole until this all blows over.

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